Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sandy Hook Truther Movement

This is jaw-droppingly astonishing:

“I don’t know what to do,” sighed Gene Rosen. “I’m getting hang up calls, I’m getting some calls, I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor, ‘how much am I being paid’?” Someone posted a photo of his house online. There have been phony Google+ and YouTube accounts created in his name, messages on white supremacist message boards ridiculing the “emotional Jewish guy,” and dozens of blog posts and videos “exposing” him as a fraud. One email purporting to be a business inquiry taunted: “How are all those little students doing? You know, the ones that showed up at your house after the ‘shooting’. What is the going rate for getting involved in a gov’t sponsored hoax anyway?”

“The quantity of the material is overwhelming,” he said. So much so that a friend shields him from most of it by doing daily sweeps of the web so Rosen doesn’t have to. His wife is worried for their safety. He’s logged every email and every call, and consulted with a retired state police officer, who took the complaint seriously but said police probably can’t do anything at the moment, and he plans to do the same with the FBI.

What did Rosen do to deserve this? One month ago, he found six little children and a bus driver at the end of the driveway of his home in Newtown, Connecticut. “We can’t go back to school,” one little boy told Rosen. “Our teacher is dead.” He brought them inside and gave them food and juice and toys. He called their parents. He sat with them and listened to their shocked accounts of what had happened just down the street inside Sandy Hook Elementary, close enough that Rosen heard the gunshots.
I remember reading Rosen's account in the days immediately after the shooting. It never dawned on me, of course, until the murders turned into a political football, that a "truther" movement would arise around the killings, questioning whether or not the event really took place (see also: 9/11 conspiracy wackos, the moon landing was a hoax clowns, et al).

Worse, there's a blurb in the article about some professor at Florida Atlantic University who is a leading proponent of the Sandy Hook Truther Movement.

A communication professor known for conspiracy theories has stirred controversy at Florida Atlantic University with claims that last month's Newtown, Conn., school shootings did not happen as reported — or may not have happened at all.

Moreover, James Tracy asserts in radio interviews and on his memoryholeblog.com. that trained "crisis actors" may have been employed by the Obama administration in an effort to shape public opinion in favor of the event's true purpose: gun control.
I checked dude's blog and sure enough, clowny has been all over alternative media spouting various versions of stupid regarding the mass killings.
In one of his blog posts, "The Sandy Hook School Massacre: Unanswered Questions and Missing Information," Tracy cites several sources for his skepticism, including lack of surveillance video or still images from the scene, the halting performance of the medical examiner at a news conference, timeline confusion, and how the accused shooter was able to fire so many shots in just minutes.
Really? That's not "sourced" evidence, it's groundless speculation. The fact that surveillance video and stills of the scene haven't been released doesn't mean they don't exist. The ME being "halting" is in the eye of the beholder, and the last point "how could he fire so many shots in just minutes" is hilariously or obtusely naive. What do you think the entire debate over high-magazine assault rifles is all about?
In an interview Monday, Tracy said "while it appears that people lost their lives" at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14, he is not ready to buy that a lone gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, entered the school and methodically shot 20 children and six adults before killing himself.

Lanza is also suspected of killing his mother at their Newtown home before arriving at the school.
Asked if he has been accused of promoting fringe theories, Tracy said, "I do get that sense, from emails and otherwise."

Tracy said he believes the deaths at Sandy Hook may have resulted from a training exercise. "Was this to a certain degree constructed?" he said. "Was this a drill?

"Something most likely took place," he said. "One is left with the impression that a real tragedy took place."
But, he added, he has not seen bodies, or photos of bodies. "Overall, I'm saying the public needs more information to assess what took place. We don't have that. And when the media and the public don't have that, various sorts of ideas can arise."

Tracy said also has doubts about the official version of the Kennedy assassination, the Oklahoma City bombing, the 9-11 terror attacks and the Aurora, Colo., theater murders.

"I describe myself as a scholar and public intellectual," he said, "interested in going more deeply into controversial public events. Although some may see [my theories] as beyond the pale, I am doing what we should be doing as academics."
LOL. Sorry, Jim, that's not what we do in academia at all. Being critical of events and deconstructing any social phenomenon is one thing, but offering proof (real, verifiable, quantifiable proof) of your assertions is another. No one in mainstream academia (or reality, for that matter) gets away with theories, hypotheses, assertions or "big ideas" without offering proof to back them up. Saying you don't believe the Sandy Hook murders occurred (or occurred in the way the events have unfolded in scores of mainstream media outlets) doesn't make it so. The burden of proof is on you to offer up evidence to the contrary, and "because I said so" doesn't really cut it.

But Tracy is just part of a larger problem known as the Denial of Reality Industry. Its motto basically boils down to "if I don't like the facts, I'll just pretend they don't exist." Usually it's done under the "question reality" banner, but there is a big difference between questioning reality and denying reality. The growth of this denial of reality industry is directly related to Barack Obama's election in 2008 (see also: the Birthers). To these people, no amount of factual evidence or quantifiable data in the world matters. "Because I said so" is all they need, and websites that confirm their beliefs, like this professor's blog, add fuel to the fire (because remember: if it's on the internets, it must be true).

And as it relates to the slaughter of 1st graders, as we've seen already, there are people who will exploit dead children for all they are worth in order to make a buck, make political points, or advance their 15 minutes of fame. As it relates to guns (which I mentioned previously) it makes even more sense. How can you argue with the slaughter of 20 1st graders? Simple: "it never happened, it's a gubmint conspiracy, have you seen the autopsy photos, they're coming for our guns," ad nauseum.

It's difficult enough in criminology to understand why people do bad things. It's even more difficult when you have an angry, paranoid minority segment of the population arguing that what we're trying to understand didn't even really happen.

Foucault must be spinning in his grave.

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